- A new trail was built from Scarpe Pass (a24) up La Coulotte Ridge in 2023, improving access to the ridge. Even with this upgrade, La Coulotte Ridge remains one of the most difficult sections of trail on the GDT with rocky terrain, loose scree and lots of elevation significantly slowing you down.
- The new West Castle River Alternate near Castle Mountain Resort eliminates 6 km of road walking. Just before crossing the West Castle River Bridge (a30) you will reach a junction with the West Castle River Trail, a recommended alternate route to the Suicide Creek Bridge and Syncline Trailhead (a31). The trail travels in the forest along the east side of the river and is 800m longer than the road walk. It involves a ford of the West Castle River, slow-moving and usually only thigh deep but use caution if water levels are high.
- Additional trail construction continues as we fine-tune the High Rock Trail resulting in a few minor route changes.
- Elk Pass Trailhead Resupply will continue this year thanks to Nicole Sharpe who has again generously offered to deliver resupply boxes to the Elk Pass Trailhead (b40) in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. The cost is $35 for GDTA members or $50 for non-members. Contact Nicole at firstname.lastname@example.org to book your delivery service and receive mailing instructions. Once you’ve paid the fee, Nicole will provide her Zoleo satellite communicator number in case on-trail communication is needed.
- Following last summer’s work at Forks Campground in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, the trail has been slightly re-routed around the campground (c2).
- Further improvements to the Ensign Creek Trail were completed last summer, allowing us to officially move the GDT onto the restored historic trail! This update replaces 8 km of road walking with 8 km of hiking on beautiful single track trail. A new campground was built on Ensign Creek as well.
- WARNING: At the north end of the Collie Creek alternate, the Blaeberry forestry bridge was removed in August 2023 so this alternate should be considered closed as the Blaeberry River is generally unfordable except during very low water levels in the fall. Hikers should use the GDT main route to get to Cairnes Creek via Ensign Creek Road and Blaeberry Forest Service Road.
- Random camping is no longer allowed anywhere along Owen Creek within Banff National Park.
- Bear lockers have been installed at Michele Lakes campground, located between the upper and lower lakes about 1 km from the GDT.
- The Six-Passes Alternate Route is closed again this year to all overnight random camping but is open to random day use activity.
- Trail maintenance on the Maligne Pass Trail has significantly improved that route with much of the deadfall and brush removed over the past couple years. Additional trail maintenance will continue in 2024. Similar to last year, the three campgrounds on the Maligne Pass Trail previously available online as ‘Maligne Pass North’ (Mary Vaux, Mary Schäffer, Trapper Creek) are listed in the online reservation system separately, with 1 site per night available at each campground.
- The Berg Lake Trail remains closed and it will not open this summer so hikers should plan accordingly when arranging resupply or exiting the trail.
- The Moose River Trail remains open so hikers can connect with Section G via Moose Pass.
- Exiting via the Moose River Trail to Highway 16 is another option.
- The North Boundary Trail in Jasper National Park received some welcome trail maintenance last year but bridges remain out over Gendarme, Carcajou, and Chown creeks. These creeks are all fordable in normal water conditions. The South Chown Alternate was added this year if the creek is impassable, directing hikers to bushwhack in the forest on the south bank of Chown Creek to reconnect with the GDT in about 3 km upstream.
- With the closure of the Berg Lake Trail, exit or resupply via the Blueberry Trail are good options. Resupply package delivery is available at the Blueberry Trailhead delivered by Robson Backcountry Adventures and stored in bear lockers. Please contact email@example.com or 1.780.931.4453 to book your delivery service and receive mailing instructions. Discount for GDTA members.
- The Walker Creek FSR was improved slightly in 2023 and should be accessible to Bastille Creek trailhead but still has several rough and muddy sections; 4WD high clearance vehicles are recommended.
Happy trails and good luck out there in 2024!